UMPI: 2019 Year in Review

2019 was a special year for the University of Maine at Presque Isle as lots of success and memories were made on campus with students, staff, faculty and community members. Students excelled in the classroom, resulting in a great deal of recognition for the university. UMPI gave back to its local and global community. Comedians, musicians and more visited campus during the year, creating many memories that people would not forget. Select students around campus not only did well with their academics, but succeeded with extracurriculars. UMPI’s athletic teams also had an exciting year during their first season competing in the North Atlantic Conference. Through these accomplishments and milestones, UMPI definitely had a year to remember.

The year started strong with UMPI’s Medical Laboratory Technology program receiving a $200,000 training center on Jan. 10 in Pullen Hall. The men’s basketball team made history with the university’s first ever appearance in a NAC playoff game. Griffin Guerrette was named NAC Rookie of the Year and Shyquinn Dix was named 1st Team All-Conference during the 2018-2019 season. Justin Rupple hosted UMPI’s first variety show, which included entertainment from students, faculty and community members. This event proved so memorable that UMPI decided to host another variety show this semester.

The university held Planet Head Day, a cancer fundraiser, in Wieden Hall on March 16. Guest speaker Shay Stewart-Bouley spoke on March 26 at a campus diversity dialogue discussing racism. Faculty member Michelle Mishaan exhibited her art in the Reed Gallery with her painted landscapes of Aroostook County. UMPI celebrated the 18 annual University Day on April 10 with a variety of student presentations. Star basketball player Shyquinn Dix was featured on CBS’ “60 Minutes,” following his life-changing experience before UMPI. On April 5 “Free Hugs” motivational speaker, Ken E. Nwadike, Jr., gave students a night to remember during his discussion. The Cinemaniacs Film Club presented screenings of their original film “The 9th Reward.”

“The 9th Reward was the first full film that I ever made. It was very successful on campus, but I was also really proud of the accomplishment because the movie was a team effort. Everybody worked really hard to make it happen,” producer of the film, Tiffany Smith, said. “2019 was a big year, because I co-produced The 9th Reward and a documentary on the History of UMPI. It was also the year that my videography business really took off.”

The Art Club held the 4 Annual Trash to Fashion Show on April 22, creating innovative fashion pieces from recycled goods. The highly anticipated Zillman Family Greenhouse was welcomed to campus during the groundbreaking ceremony on April 25. The greenhouse will benefit the agriculture science program on campus. The women’s softball team competed in the NAC conference tournament, finishing third. Later in the month, former Owl softball player, Alissa Edwards, was hired as head coach for the program. Aaron Marston was officially hired as the head women’s soccer coach and Shea Cushman took over UMPI’s Nordic ski program.

The university held its 110 Commencement ceremony on May 11, with 112 students participating. Bringing in the new academic year, UMPI announced a new Cybersecurity bachelor’s degree starting in the fall of 2019. Cross Country coach Christopher Smith was honored for his 30 plus years of service with the athletics department. UMPI was recognized as one of the top 5 Most Innovative Schools for Regional Colleges in the North, along with four other top rankings in the “U.S. News and World Report 2020 Best Colleges” list.

Homecoming 2019 was a success as usual, filled with entertainment and fireworks for students and community members. The end of the year was especially bright when news came that UMPI had won one of the largest grants in university history. The U.S. Department of Education’s announced that the University was selected for a 2019 Title III Strengthening Institutions Program grant worth nearly $2.25 million over a five-year cycle. The 8 Annual Purple Pinkie event was held on campus and through Aroostook County, raising over $3,000 for efforts to eradicate polio around the world. UMPI’s History Club established the Little Free Library on Nov. 22 in the Owl’s Nest, a large bookcase used for book exchanges with people on campus and around the community. The club’s president and well-known student on campus, Evan Zarkadas, not only founded the library, but also had other accomplishments through the year.

“The Free Little Library was an idea that I had over the summer and a project that I thought would be a great addition to this campus. I was following a few social media pages from the Free Little Library foundation and the idea was very appealing to me, and I was admitting the incredible work they do, so I decided to establish one here on campus,” Evan Zarkadas said. “One word that would describe my 2019 is Inspirational. From all of these experiences, awards, projects, learning curves, etc. I have become even more inspired to keep moving forwards, gain as much experience and enjoy life even more and keep doing great things, while at the same time give back to my community, family and friends.”

UMPI finished out the year strong with another national ranking. The university was recognized in “Washington Monthly” magazine for 2019 college rankings, earning spots in the Top 50 Liberal Arts Colleges: Northeast and Top 50 Best Bang for the Buck: Northeast.

Through student success, university awards, guest speakers and more, 2019 was one of the university’s strongest years. Many memories were made during the year that will be carried into 2020 as UMPI hopes to have an even better year as it continues to grow as an institution. The university’s success in 2019 was represented by individuals across the county, nation and world who embody what it means to be an UMPI Owl.

A Year to Remember for UMPI in 2019.

Shyquinn Dix Scores His 1,000 Point as an Owl

 

 

UMPI’s men_s basketball team pose for a picture on Jan. 28.

University of Maine at Presque Isle star basketball player Shyquinn Dix collected his 1,000 point in his college career on Jan. 28 against Unity College. Hundreds gathered in Wieden gymnasium to watch the team and wait for Dix to hit the milestone, which was only 7 points away.

The Owls started strong, immediately pushing past Unity. Within minutes of the game, Dix made a 3-pointer. Moments later, he scored a 2-point jumper. The crowd grew quiet, waiting for the Owl’s next possession. After a turnover from Unity, the ball fell into Dix’s hands. Dix made his way down the court, with an easy layup, scoring his 1,000 point as a collegiate basketball player. The crowd exploded, giving Dix a minute standing ovation. UMPI coaches and the entire team ran onto the court to celebrate with Dix and his accomplishment.

“Shy is a person that in his last couple years here at UMPI, has been very successful on and off the court in a lot that he has done and has had a lot of praise (well deserved) around UMPI. He is a tough kid, and any negative criticism he just ignores or even better uses it as fuel. But when it comes to constructive criticism, he wants it and needs it,” UMPI Assistant Basketball Coach Mark Knight said. “I am very proud of what he has accomplished so far and will be even more proud when I see what he will accomplish throughout the rest of his life.”

Dix, a junior from Stamford, Conn., not only accomplished greatness on the court, but has overcome much bigger obstacles throughout his life. In March of 2019, Shyquinn Dix was featured on CBS News “60 Minutes.” The special covered a German-style prison at a Connecticut maximum security prison, which Dix participated in after he was sentenced to four years of prison for being a part of a check-fraud scheme. Dix was a part of the T.R.U.E. program, which is a prison program that focuses on individual reform for 18-25-year-old offenders, providing them with older inmate mentors, life-skills classes and much more positive interaction with correctional officers.

After success in the program, Dix bonded with a correctional officer, James Vassar, who helped him connect with UMPI Head Basketball Coach Dan Kane. After months of communication and finally meeting Dix, Kane welcomed him to the UMPI basketball program. His addition to the team not only helped Dix himself, but also the team, as Dix led them to the North Atlantic Conference tournament for the first time in program history during the 2018-2019 season.

“Shy and I have been through quite a bit in the short time period that we have known each other. I would say it is a relationship that is built on mutual respect and trust and wanting the best for Shy’s future,” Dan Kane said. “I am very proud of the hard work Shy has put in on the court, in the classroom and in his personal life. I think Shy would admit as any of us would, there is still room to grow, but seeing him strive to be the best father, son, sibling, friend, teammate and basketball player he can be does make me very proud and with all my players and all the student-athletes at UMPI, that is what motivates me to come to work every day.”

Partly through Shyquinn Dix’s leadership and talent, the Owls have once again reached the North Atlantic Conference tournament during the end of their season.

Shopping for Christmas Gifts Without Breaking Your Budget

 

Shopping for Christmas gifts does not have to break your budget this year.

One of the greatest gifts of Christmas is giving to those you love. Everyone would like to buy the most expensive gifts for their family and friends, but it can be too expensive for the average person. There are alternatives for gift giving during the holidays, without breaking your budget. A good gift does not always have to be about the number on the price tag. There is a good chance that your friend will enjoy a gift with more sentimental value than an expensive gift. Gift giving does not always have to be stressful. There are many methods and strategies that you can follow this holiday season. If you follow these next steps and ideas, you could end up saving money and possibly have fun while doing it.

There are some simple methods that can be helpful to shoppers before they even hit the stores. Budgeting, shopping early and combining your shopping can be beneficial. Before you shop, budget your money and set a plan for your purchases so that you know exactly what you will be spending. Go Christmas shopping before everyone else. Get your shopping done early so that you can sit back and relax during December. Instead of shopping at multiple places, make all your purchases in one place so that you can save the money toward store taxes and car gas.

“If I am on a budget when I am Christmas shopping, I like to make as many gifts as I can because I feel like it is more meaningful when you put your time into the gift,” UMPI freshman Emily Blauvet said. “I love shopping for my friends and family. That is one of my favorite parts of Christmas. I love watching my loved ones open gifts that I get them. I think Christmas is being with your family and friends and celebrating being together because people often overlook what and who they have in their life.”

Electronics and clothes can be great gifts, but inexpensive items can also show someone how much you care. Handwritten notes or customizable items can be great gifts. Shopping at discount stores such as Marden’s or the Dollar Tree can help. Saving money could also mean buying more gifts for the people who otherwise would not make the list.

The Dollar Tree is a perfect place to get smaller items that can be brought together. The store sells candy, decorations, winter gloves, mugs and more. It also sells Christmas cards and crafts that can be signed or customized to create a sentimental feel. A gift is a gift, it does not matter the size. By giving gifts to people, you are telling them how much you care, despite the size of the gift.

Christmas is about the time you share with family and friends. Exchanging gifts is just another small aspect of the day. Shopping for gifts and receiving them is fun, although there is much more to the day than what is under the tree.

“I love shopping for my friends and family for Christmas. I’m not a big fan of shopping, but I like to think of the smile my friends and family will have when they open their gifts,” UMPI freshman Halle Garner said. “Christmas is all about being with your family. It doesn’t matter what you eat or what presents you get, as long as the holidays are spent with loved ones–period.”

The holiday season is about spending time with the ones you love. Gift-giving is just another aspect to Christmas that everyone cherishes. While shopping for gifts can be exciting, it is important to remember the people whom you spend Christmas with. After all, giving is a much better feeling than receiving.

Presque Isle Loop Brings Much-Needed Transportation to the City

 

Don Sawyer assists Dr. J off the Presque Isle Loop.

The city of Presque Isle has a new form of transportation available to its residents. The Presque Isle Loop, an innovative metro-style bus, is now traveling through the city, making it the first fixed bus route in Presque Isle. The Loop has 16 stops through town and is affordable for anyone looking for a ride. The bus, which started on Oct. 15, was formed by the Going Places Network in collaboration between multiple agencies and organizations throughout Aroostook County.

The bus is operated by the Aroostook Regional Transportation System and it seats up to 36 passengers. The bus is also accessible to all who may have a disability. The bus features free Wi-Fi, air conditioning and spacious seats.

The bus will give access to a variety of Presque Isle residents who may need transportation. From college students to the elderly, the bus will give new opportunities to people who did not have it before. Many students at UMPI or NMCC do not have cars or a means of transportation. The Presque Loop is a new resource for them. Older citizens of the city who can not drive on their own will now be able to travel. People who work around town will now be able to use the bus. If people without a car would like to make a trip to Walmart, they can now do that through the bus.

Don Sawyer, a bus driver for the Loop, spoke about its recent success. “On a good day, we get about 25 people,” Sawyer said. “I used to drive buses for the schools. This is a lot better than having 50 screaming kids behind you,” Sawyer laughed. The most popular stop for the Loop is Walmart. He also mentioned that a stop at Walmart gives people more than an hour to shop before the bus comes back, which is plenty of time to get what you need.

The first two weeks of the Presque Isle Loop in October were free to all riders. Since then, ticket prices are $1.75 for one way and $3.50 for a roundtrip. Children under the age of 5 ride the bus for free with a parent or guardian. Discounted fares are available to people ages 18 years and under or 60 years and older. Military Veterans and their spouses with ID will be offered a discount as well as people with mobility disabilities. Passengers will also have the option to purchase a GoPass with unlimited rides. This pass can either consist of a week for $18 or a month for $72.

The start of the Presque Isle Loop begins at UMPI by the Campus Center circle, then heading to the Plaza on Main Street near Big Cheese Pizza. The next stops are at Academy Street, the Presque Isle Nursing Home and Griffin Street. The bus makes several more stops through town including the Aroostook Centre Mall, Walmart, the Micmac Health Center, NMCC and more. On average, the bus stops at each location every 70 minutes.

UMPI professor Jacqui Lowman, a wheelchair user, had no trouble getting on the bus. “I thought it was amazing. I was so impressed. I thought the bus would be nice, but I had no idea that is would be that nice. It was very warm, and it had a great view out the window,” Lowman said. “There are many people who need to go to appointments or need to get to work and they do not have a vehicle. We’ve needed this for a long time. It is very affordable, and I think it is just going to keep building.”

The Presque Isle Loop has been a success since its opening in October and it is bound to continue its growth. This bus allows the city of Presque Isle to become more innovative and helpful to its citizens. It gives its community members a means of transportation in a city that has never had it before. The bus is another example of the steps Presque Isle is taking to improve the lives of its citizens. When people ride the Loop, they are not only helping themselves, but also their city. The Loop gives citizens a safe and convenient ride across town or wherever they may need to go in the future.

 

 

Good Times at the Snowy Owl Marketplace

 

People shop in Gentile Hall during the Snowy Owl Marketplace.

On Sept. 28, the University of Maine at Presque Isle hosted the Snowy Owl Marketplace as part of its Homecoming Weekend. From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., Gentile Hall was filled with a variety of vendors and tables. Students and community members packed the gym in order to see what they could get their hands on during that Saturday.

Many university clubs and sport teams participated in the event, hoping to raise money for their program or organizations. The International Students club sold potatoes and noodles. The Bio-Med Club sold cookies. The History Club sold a variety of coffees. The Criminal Justice Club had lots of success by selling Krispy Kreme Donuts. University Times sold fruit cups, drinks and macaroni and cheese. The baseball team ran a concession stand, selling popcorn, candy, hotdogs, drinks and more. The softball team sold baked goods and coffee.

A diverse assortment of vendors from outside of campus also attended. Many arts and crafts tables were out on display. Another booth had soaps, lotions and bath bombs for sale. Many vendors had autumn and Halloween decorations. Jewelry, blankets and even flavored marshmallows were also sold during the marketplace.

Danielle Pelkey and Laurie Boucher, both employees in the UMPI student financial services office, ran a vendor booth at the marketplace. The pair sold customized crafts and gifts. “I think the Snowy Owl Marketplace went really well. There was a lot of participation from local crafters, artisans, vendors and student organizations/clubs. There’s already brainstorming taking place for next year to make it even better. It was nice having it located at Gentile Hall where the weather didn’t affect the set up and more individuals were able to take part in,” Danielle Pelkey said. “We will definitely be participating again in the future. It was a great way to showcase our homemade and customized items for upcoming holidays.”

The year’s Snowy Owl Marketplace was different from the others held in the previous years. In past years, the marketplace was called the block party. The term Snowy Owl Marketplace is now its new and improved name. The past events were also always held outside at the tennis courts. Due to the weather, Homecoming organizers decided to change the location. A Car Show was held outside of Gentile, which brought in some visitors to the event. UMPI’s men’s and women’s soccer teams also competed in games during the time of the marketplace, bringing in more people.

“I had a great time. I really enjoyed coming out with friends and looking at arts and crafts, jewelry, artwork and homemade baked goods vendors had to offer. It also was very affordable, which gave me a lot to choose from. Even with being indoors, it didn’t take away from the whole marketplace feel. Going to the Snowy Owl Marketplace is something I definitely would do again,” UMPI sophomore Savannah Borland said.

This year’s Snowy Owl Marketplace brought hundreds of UMPI students, staff and community members together for a special day that will be looked forward to during next year’s Homecoming weekend.

Educational Technology: University Day Presentation

Stacy Landry, Tamielee Sutherland, and Emma Lajoie smile after their presenation.

Education students Stacy Landy, Emma Lajoie and Tamielee Sutherland presented their work on Educational Technology to Enrich Teaching and Learning during UMPI’s 18th annual University Day. Throughout the presentation, the women discussed the importance of technology in the classroom and how it affects the students, teachers and parents. Continue reading “Educational Technology: University Day Presentation”

Usain Bolt Coming to UMPI

Olympian Usain Bolt is coming to UMPI.

     The fastest man on earth is coming to the University of Maine of Presque Isle on Saturday, April 6, for sports clinic. The Jamaican sprinter will travel to northern Maine to greet community members and students during a sports clinic, which he will be running, no pun intended. The clinic will consist of speed and agility drills run by Bolt in Gentile Hall at 11 a.m. The event is free and open to everyone of all ages. Continue reading “Usain Bolt Coming to UMPI”

A Night Full of Laughs and Entertainment During the Variety Show

The University of Maine at Presque Isle hosted its first ever Variety Show on Thursday, Feb. 28, at 6 p.m.  It was filled with several acts from students, faculty and staff. The show was hosted by Los Angeles-based comedian, actor and voice actor, Justin Rupple. Community members, faculty, staff and students filled Wieden Auditorium for a fun and entertaining night at UMPI. Continue reading “A Night Full of Laughs and Entertainment During the Variety Show”

NSLS Hosts Livestream with Dr. Drew

Dr. Drew_s presentation on Feb. 19.

The University of Maine at Presque Isle’s National Society of Leadership and Success hosted a livestream event on Tuesday, Feb. 19, featuring Dr. Drew Pinksy. People viewed the lecture, titled Leadership Lessons with Dr. Drew, across the country on college campuses, including UMPI’s Wieden Auditorium. Continue reading “NSLS Hosts Livestream with Dr. Drew”

8th Annual Think Pink Games Draw a Big Crowd

The Wieden Gymnasium, packed for the Think Pink games.

The University of Maine at Presque Isle’s 8th Annual Think Pink basketball games drew a huge crowd on Tuesday, Feb. 12 in the Wieden Gymnasium. Students, staff, faculty, community members and more attended the men’s and women’s basketball games held against UMPI rival, the University of Maine at Fort Kent. Spectators and players wore shades of pink to represent patients and survivors who were or still are battling cancer. The money raised during Think Pink games is donated to the American Cancer Society Continue reading “8th Annual Think Pink Games Draw a Big Crowd”